State loosens restrictions on visitation at long-term care facilities
Some Delawareans are now getting to see their loved ones indoors at long term care facilities for the first time since early on in the pandemic.
Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced last week that based on the latest CDC guidance - it is allowing full visitation to almost all long-term care facilities residents.
For several weeks this winter the state only allowed some compassionate care visits. In February, it started allowing visits at facilities with an approved plan.
David Boyer is the Administrator at the Newark Manor Nursing Home. He says under previous state guidance his hands were tied when it came to allowing indoor visitation.
“Bring somebody to the front glass doors and the family member would sit outside in the cold and there would be a phone call through the glass,” said Boyer. “And it was amazing to see how the families were able to go through such painful lengths to visit their loved ones,”
Now the only main limits on visitation are for unvaccinated residents at a facility with a COVID-19 positivity rate of greater than 10 percent and where fewer than 70 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. COVID-positive residents also cannot have visitors.
And now vaccinated residents are allowed to have close contact and touch their visitors while wearing a mask.
“It actually seems to motivate some of the families to get over their vaccine resistance, because it allows for vaccinated individuals to have actual physical contact with their family members now for the first time in over a year,” said Boyer.
The state’s latest guidance also lists several other precautions long-term care facilities should take when allowing indoor visitation. These include the number of people allowed in, adjusting visitation policy based on the COVID positivity rate in the respective county and regulating the length of visits.
Nearly half of Delaware’s COVID-19 death toll have been residents of long-term care facilities.